THE family of a great-grandfather have written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to raise concerns about the care offered to elderly patients in a North-East hospital.

Former police officer and train driver Dennis Robinson, from Darlington, died last month, aged 89, with his family accusing staff at Darlington Memorial Hospital (DMH) of:

• Failing to regularly change blood-stained bandages following a partial hip replacement;

• Not encouraging him to eat his food or take medication;

• Moving him to a ward where the winter vomiting bug Norovirus was rife.

Mr Robinson spent three weeks in DMH before being moved to the Richardson Community Hospital, in Barnard Castle, for rehabilitation, but he his condition deteriorated and he died.

Bosses at County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, which runs DMH, have offered to meet Mr Robinson’s family to discuss their issues with his care.

A spokesman said: “We are very sorry that Mr Robinson’s granddaughter was unhappy with aspects of her grandfather’s care. We would welcome the opportunity to talk to her about any concerns she has.”

The family has raised concerns with the trust, but has yet to lodge a formal complaint.

Mr Robinson was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1982 for his road safety work during his time in the police service.

His granddaughter, Frances Robinson, has emailed Mr Hunt calling for the Government to put patients’ needs ahead of budgetary concerns.

She wrote: “Nurses are too stretched and wards too understaffed to deal with more needy patients one-to-one.

“Patients who need help aren't helped to feed or take their medication. This is what happened to my Granddad.”

Miss Robinson, 31, said she has witnessed poor levels of elderly care at other hospitals in the region.

The email to Mr Hunt continued: “Since the Coalition came into power what we have seen is a disgraceful demise in our once brilliant health care service due to ‘budget cuts’.

“Find [the cuts] elsewhere, somewhere that doesn't affect those who are most in need.”

In a letter to Miss Robinson, the Department for Health expressed its condolences and added: “The provision of healthcare services is a matter for the NHS locally and the department does not play a role in investigating individual complaints.”

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